A/N: This is a somewhat unorthodox fic, so be prepared for a unique story line. I'm something of a novice when it comes to X-Files fics, so please let me know if I've spelled someone's name wrong, etc. Enjoy – and keep an open mind!
The Night We Never Met
Dana Scully took her shoes off and put her feet up on the coffee table she'd just bought last week from the antique furniture dealer in town. She put her hands to her temples and rubbed in circles. This never helped her. Whoever came up with rubbing temples to relieve a headache? Did it actually cure some people, or was it just a momentary distraction from pain? She decided it was a placebo, and put her hands in her lap.
" Mom," her son Johnny called from the hallway, walking into the living room where she sat, " Is that you?"
" Well," Dana answered, rubbing her eyes now, tired, " I'm the only other person who lives here. So it must be me," she said, trying to sound more cheerful than she felt.
" Right," he said, annoyed with her sarcasm. Dana hated to subject him to it – his father had been sarcastic, and he'd always hated it. Even though Fox Mulder was out of their life, and they were both Scullys again, any remembrance of him was still too stinging and too soon.
" What's the matter?" Dana asked her son. He was fourteen, about to go into high school. " What's that look?" she asked, " I hate that look."
" What look?" he asked, making the face that stirred her even more prominently, " Why?"
" I don't know," she said, standing. " It makes me nervous." She turned around and regarded him again. He didn't look anything like Mulder, he had her red hair, but his features were distinctly his own. Sometimes, though, when he made That Face, she'd feel a twitch in her memory and try and attribute those characteristics – his frown, his slightly aggravated stare – to someone she'd known. Maybe a distant grandfather, buried under dusty subconscious childhood memories?
" Well, excuse me," he said, crossing his legs and sitting back, " Grandma called while you were at work. She wants you to call her back."
" Oh . . . boy," Dana muttered, beginning to feel the monotony of the rest of her day take over as she made a pot of coffee. She was drinking it too much, lately – before work, at work, first thing when she got home from work . . . Sometimes in the middle of the night, when she couldn't sleep, she had a cup of coffee. It sounded ludicrous, but lately she wasn't welcoming sleep. It wasn't much of comfort to her anymore.
She and Johnny ordered a pizza for dinner, and she let him go out afterwards to play basketball with some friends. If there was one thing he'd gotten from Mulder, genetically, it was his height.
Dana sighed, and flipped the TV off, sat in the darkness the absence of its blue glow left behind. She pulled her knees up to her chest and hugged them, thinking of Johnny's father. Why couldn't she remember making love to Mulder before Johnny was born? She didn't doubt that her memory was fuzzy for a reason – the shadow government, the aliens – a million different silent villains could have blacked whatever they wanted out of her mind for whatever reason. Stranger things had happened.
She had been told from the beginning that Johnny was the product of invitro fertilization, the 'boy parts' provided by Mulder with only friendly expectations. So why had they gone through the motions after Johnny's birth – their brief love affair, their rushed marriage, their bitter divorce – why, if Johnny was only the product of a scientific miracle that they'd both played parts in?
Dana knew that Johnny was born out of love, but she couldn't understand why she was made to forget the night he'd been conceived. She remembered things in flashes sometimes – when she was doing the laundry, or pulling a black-trayed turkey breast dinner out of the microwave. She would remember a tragic embrace, the feeling of a man's flesh against her belly. These weren't the kind of memories that her years spent with Mulder had given her. She and Mulder were awkward together at best, she – small and voluptuous, he – massive and lanky, right down to his nose.
She felt that she'd forced her ex-husband into a premature engagement. Maybe they could have loved each other – really loved each other, like a husband and wife and not a pair of old friends – but the timing was wrong. Mulder finally left three years ago when his girlfriend in the city made him choose.
Dana knew with some certainty that she'd never loved anyone before Fox Mulder. She hadn't been a virgin to men and all their gory details, but she had never loved. She remembered fondly the days when her love was secret, when she was sure that he didn't return her affections. He was my first real crush, she decided – he was the first one I really ached for.
But strangely, having Mulder in her bed, in her body, did not fill her ache. Something had changed between the time she'd began admitting in the smallest ways that she loved him, and the time she became pregnant. But the place where she should know what that thing was remained blank.
She didn't have any explanations. She was tired of explaining things that defied the only kind of logic she knew.
Dana went to bed. She was the Assistant Director of the FBI, a celebrated part of the agency and a successful single mother. Fox ran an occult bookstore in town with his fiancée, Miranda. Walter Skinner was retired, but still a close friend. Alex Krychek had disappeared years ago, and though he was not missed, something about his complete absence made Dana sad – he was a part of her life back when it was full and alive, and now he was gone.
Monica Keyes had taken over the X-Files for awhile, but eventually they slipped into oblivion. Without Mulder's passion, they had always been lacking in productivity.
Kersh had died last year of an acute kidney malfunction. Dana was not in attendance at his funeral. The new FBI director was a man named Bruce Udol, and his iron-clad way of running the bureau wasn't very different from Kersh's.
So things had changed, and everyone had fallen into different places. But something was missing. When Dana went back and thought over her old friends and colleagues, there was a empty place that she couldn't put her finger on it.
She fell asleep while pondering over this phenomenon, as she often did.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dana had the same dream every night now. Gunshots. She was running. Someone was holding onto her hand, but she felt their fingers slipping apart as they ran.
When the running stopped, she was crying. A man held her: not tenderly, but to shield her, protect her.
A flash, and she was in cabin. There was snow outside, loud footsteps on a hard wood floor.
She was saying – telling someone – that she was cold. She felt arms around her, hands moving on her skin.
The same sensation that came every night: she was making love to the father of her baby. He was gentle, and sobbing softly, touching her cheeks. Don't forget me, he says. The same thing every night: don't forget me.
Dana tells herself, like she does every night, that she will not forget. She can feel him inside her though part of her knows this is a dream, she can feel her own sweat gather on her upper lip.
This is the father of my baby, she thinks, looking up at him as his tears fall onto her forehead. I will remember, this time, I will remember.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dana woke up with a start, breathing heavily. She looked to her side for Mulder – she had the strangest sensation that she'd fallen asleep in someone's arms.
She put her head in her hands and let her breathing slow. She had an odd guilty feeling – that she'd forgotten something.
She got up and paced about the house – making sure she'd turned off the oven, the coffee pot, fed the cats. She peeked into Johnny's room and found him slumbering peacefully. She had a flash of recollection as she watched him sleep, and she gasped softly in the dark of the hallway, trying to hold onto it.
All she could remember when she regained her normal thought process was: Johnny's face. She crept further into his room and bent down to examine her son's face closely. He was a beautiful boy. He hadn't gotten Mulder's nose – thank God.
On the contrary, his nose was small and sharp – smaller than her own nose, Johnny's was a nose she didn't recognize at all. And his eye's were nothing like Mulder's or her's – they were small and sharp as well, an eerie light green that didn't match the rest of his intense features. All he has is my hair, Dana realized – the red hair, there's no escaping it.
Maybe they mixed up the sperm donors, she thought with a silent smirk, standing and leaving her son's room. Johnny would only be more than happy to know that he had nothing to do with Mulder – he'd made himself his father's bitter enemy ever since the divorce had exposed him as an adulterer.
" I don't trust him, Mom," he would always say, giving her The Look, the stern/pissed off glare that gave her shudders.
She would only laugh at his accusations – despite his cheating, Scully trusted no one in this world more than her ex-husband, ex-partner, former best friend.
The former best friend part was the only sadness her split with Mulder had brought her. Otherwise it had been a blessing to finally end the charade.
She settled back into her bed and convinced herself that she needed rest. She had a lot of work to do tomorrow at the bureau. So no coffee tonight.
As soon as her head hit the pillow, she was out like a light.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
She went through the motions of the dream again.
It was more than fourteen years earlier. Dana understood that, in the dream. Then she melted into the events that it replayed and replayed, and forgot the future entirely.
She was just waking up when she first met the man who told her that he could save her. She answered the door and there he was – tall and angry looking, she was frightened at first. His skin was weathered, his voice spiked with a thick New York accent. He called himself Luke, but she had the feeling that it wasn't his real name, that he was protecting himself.
It was early morning, and he sat with her on the couch. He flashed her his FBI badge and told her that it was only a matter of earning her trust. That he was on a personal mission to save her life.
Dana had itched for her cell phone: she wanted to call Mulder, she could feel the weight of the situation unfolding, whether this Luke was telling her the truth or not.
He told her that someone she trusted was trying to impregnate her with an alien baby. He told her she would die if she gave birth. He told her that the man with the plan was Fox Mulder.
Dana laughed. She told Luke to get out of her house. Maybe she didn't mean it – there was some sincerity in his eyes. He left, but he told her he would stay close. He handed her a list. She read it when he left: it was a list of three things that would happen to her in the following week. She rolled her eyes, but she was shaken. She tucked the list into a drawer on her bedside table.
There had been a note at the bottom of the list. It read that if she valued her life at all, she would not let Mulder know about Luke's visit, or the list.
Scully planned on telling Mulder. She went to work that day with the intention of telling him. She even opened her mouth a few times to do so. But she couldn't forget Luke's eyes: their honesty, their desperation. He seemed to be truly scared for her.
So she didn't speak a word of it to Mulder. She almost forgot about the whole issue – until the three things on the list came to pass. They happened in the midst of investigations, exactly as Luke had predicted, exactly as he'd written. Things that no one could have predicted – not even Mulder.
Scully often took the list from its drawer in the following week. Luke had left a motel room number at the bottom of the paper, a place where he could be reached when she decided to believe him. She didn't want to believe him. She stayed put.
Then Mulder asked if she'd like to try invitro fertilization. It was supposed to be a tender moment, but Scully could read now that it had been tentatively premeditated. He offered to donate his sperm. He made jokes. Scully made an excuse. She said she had to think about it. By then she had memorized Luke's hotel and room number. She knocked on his door, sobbing, and threw up in his bathroom until he checked her for dehydration.
" What should I do?" she asked, her voice groggy, when she finally finished. " What have you come here to do about this? My partner has betrayed me. You think you know about me – did you know that I loved him?"
" Yes," Luke answered. He could be quite stoic.
" Well, why?" she sobbed, unable to imagine anything worse than Mulder's deception. " Do you have a reason?" she asked, walking to Luke and grabbing his shirt, staring him in the face as he sat completely still, " Can you give me a reason?" she shouted.
" The reason I'm here?" he asked, " Or the reason he betrayed you?"
" Both," she growled through gritted teeth, " If you've got the time."
" Because I love you," he said, trying to sound strong but faltering, " And because he's . . . one of them."
" What?" she cried, crumbling to the floor. " That's . . . not possible. Who are you??"
" We meet in the future," he told her, " I'm your partner, after Mulder stages his own abduction so that we will run in circles looking for him until your pregnancy comes to term."
" Pregnancy?" Dana sobbed, placing a hand on her flat stomach.
" It hasn't happened yet," Luke assured her, standing and pulling out a Desert Eagle from the holster at his hip, checking to make sure it was loaded, " He'll have to get through me first."
" Why?" she demanded, " You said you loved me? But – we've never even met. Are you trying to tell me you're from the future?"
He sighed heavily and nodded.
" But time travel is scientifically impossible! I don't believe in it," she said, indignantly.
" Neither did I," he said, " I never believed in any of this before you. Certainly not time travel. But when Walter Skinner said I had a chance to save you –"
" You know Assistant Director Skinner?" she asked, desperate for logic, groping for understanding. Luke nodded. He was so severe, Dana had a hard time believing that he was her savior.
" Why is this happening?" Dana cried, crawling into the bed and curling into a ball.
" Why does he want to impregnate me – has he been 'one of them' all of this time? Please tell me he hasn't. Please tell me they just . . . took his body. Oh, God!"
" He hasn't," Luke said, trying to sound sure. Dana had the feeling he didn't know or care either way, that he just wanted to make her feel better.
" Why do I even believe you?" she asked, realizing that she'd worn herself out worrying over the past weeks since she'd met Luke, that she felt marginally safe now. " If I can't even trust the man I've known and loved for years – why do I trust you?"
" I don't know," Luke answered with a sigh, sitting on the end of the bed. He looked like he wanted to reach for her. Dana wondered if they were lovers in the future. She curled her legs closer to herself protectively. " But I'm glad you do," he said. A simple, stupid answer. But she believed him. Why?
" So what do we do now?" she asked, close to falling asleep despite herself. She was exhausted from crying and getting sick.
" We run," Luke answered. " There is a certain incubation period – he has a deadline to fertilize you. These are very complicated genes he's carrying – somehow they cloaked themselves in your womb – all of your doctors were telling you that your baby was perfectly normal."
" A perfectly normal miracle," Dana muttered, the last tears she possessed sliding down her cheeks. " I'm infertile," she told him. " Supposed to be, anyway."
" I know," he said softly. " But somehow – look, I'm not pretending to understand all of this. I'm just trying to keep you safe. I don't want to scare you – but I watched you die in childbirth, Dana." He choked on the end of his sentence, and Dana felt herself shake all over. In someone's reality, she thought, I'm dead.
" I just want to keep you safe," he said again, turning his gun over in his hands.
" Put that away," she said, reaching for him. Surprised, he clicked on the safety and laid the gun on the bedside table. He leaned back onto the pillows, beside her.
Dana sat up on one elbow and touched his face. A week's worth of dried tear tracks stained his weathered cheeks. He was handsome, he looked terrified. She felt odd. She felt odd thinking about existing somewhere else. Or not existing. It made the situation feel less real, and she certainly needed that.
" You watched me die?" she whispered, and his eyes filled again. He looked at his lap, blinking his tears away fiercely.
" Did I love you, in return?" she asked, more curious than comforting. He looked up at her, his eyes dry again.
" I don't know," he said. " I hoped so."
Gunshots. They were running. Luke had warned her in the beginning that he would probably be killed by Mulder or the government. He was messing with the threads of time, unauthorized, all to save one woman. But the combination of his and Skinner's love just couldn't let her go, not like that. They had been there when she died, they had both seen her unbearable pain, seen Mulder indifferently collect the baby and leave.
Luke had warned her that Skinner had probably been killed in this reality for what he knew about this mission to save her in the future. Scully cried for him. She cried for herself, for this baby she'd carried in another thread of life, though it was something born of evil. She even cried for Luke, sometimes. He was so sure that they would catch up with him, eventually – this black, unnamed, oppresive force. He was giving away his life to buy time for her. She was beginning to root for him, though. She was beginning to hope.
He took her to a cabin in Montana. It was snowing. Everything in her felt frozen. What's the point of surviving? she wondered sometimes. What's the point if my life has just become some chase? Something I'm running from? Sometimes she just wanted to let Mulder win. But she kept running, just as fast, with Luke's sweaty fingers slipping out of her grasp as they went.
He had a collection of canned foods in the cabin, something he'd prepared before he'd come for her. Watery soup and mushy black peas. She didn't want to eat. He told her she needed her strength.
They sat by the fire for long periods of time and thought. Luke stood for every creak in the house's foundation, raised his gun for every branch that scraped against the window in the wind. Dana just stared at the fire. There was so much to think about. Sometimes she fell asleep there on the couch, where Luke usually slept, sacrificing the bed for her – where he claimed to sleep, anyway. He was always awake when she drifted off, always awake when she woke in the morning. She wondered if he ever took his eyes off of her.
He was quiet; he made her nervous. She wanted to ask him why he loved her in the future, why he still loved her now when she mostly thought he was crazy, or a figment of her imagination, an involved dream. She asked him a lot of things. He didn't have a lot of answers.
" What's your real name?" she called to him once in the middle of the night when he thought she was asleep.
He was silent for a moment, considering. " I guess it doesn't matter now," he said from the living room. " John Doggett," he answered.
" Can I still call you Luke?" she asked, half-kidding. It had been awhile since she'd kidded.
" Call me whatever you want," he answered. Sometimes he was so indifferent. He was nothing like Mulder, not passionate, funny, bizarre. She wanted to believe that Mulder hadn't always been out to get her, prepping her for this ultimate duty of carrying an alien baby. But she couldn't make herself take that leap of faith. She could only believe what Luke told her. What John told her.
She started calling him John.
She loved him. Sometimes after dinner she would brush her hair, because there was nothing else to do. She loved the way he watched her.
They started to feel the end nearing as the nights got longer. You can only hide for so long. They could feel it in their bones. Dana helped John shave with a pesky razor, and was surprised with herself when she didn't cut him once. He tried to hide his smile, and she could see he wanted to tell her That's why I love you. A smooth shave.
" Hey," she called across the cabin once as she was climbing into bed.
" Hey yourself," he wasn't interested in any more questions, not now.
" Come over here," she beckoned, " Lay down for a minute. You look tired. You know, I've never seen you sleep."
He walked over to the bed. " Maybe I sleep with my eyes open." He did as he was told, put his gun on the bedside table, and climbed into the over-stuffed bed. He put his head on his pillows and shut his eyes. Dana climbed up next to him, and peered down at his closed eyelids. They snapped open, and she jumped.
" That's all you get," he told her, getting up. She grabbed his arm.
" Just stay," she said, " What have we got to lose, anymore?" He looked at his watch. She knew that there were only a few days left in the incubation period. They both knew that they would come for them anyway.
So they slept together. Dana stayed up sometimes and watched him sleep, switching their roles. His sleep was fitful, it made her sad. Sometimes they went outside during the day, and it was so cold. Sometimes he put his arms around her. Sometimes she didn't mind. She pulled his arms around her now, in bed, and he woke and held onto her, and didn't go back to sleep. Dana shut her eyes and pretended to sleep – she didn't want to make love to him, she probably wouldn't even remember how, it had been so long.
She wanted to make love to him. She didn't know how to ask – he seemed so afraid of her, she knew he thought of her as a ghost, sometimes.
She kissed the back of his neck sometimes when he was making dinner, but he didn't turn around. She could feel him blush when she touched him. He blushed hugely, with his whole body.
One night, so close to the end that the whole day was dark, he told her about his wife and child who had died. Dana told him she knew what loss was. He looked at his hands for a long time. He said that maybe they were the only two people in the world who knew what loss was. She wanted to hold him, but she was afraid he'd feel her shake.
The next morning was dark. Dana woke up and squeezed John to her until she couldn't get him any closer. So she pulled him closer, in the way only a woman can make a man closer until there's no more room. When she felt him inside her she cried, because they had wasted so much time, and now their time was up.
" Don't forget me," he sobbed, thrusting into her deep, hard, meaningful. So he could be passionate, after all. " Don't forget me," he pleaded. She could feel his tears on her face when he bent his head to kiss her cheeks, and she knew they were the same tears he cried when she died. She stopped crying, and pulled him down, held him so close to her that he could barely move. When he came inside her, she knew she was pregnant.
When the men with the long jackets came, she knew he was dead. She'd been at the sink, washing dishes. John had been outside chopping firewood. She hoped he'd died quickly. She didn't have time for tears – Mulder was in the cabin, he was walking toward her, expressionless. She made the cross she'd learned in Sunday School across her chest before he jabbed a syringe into her arm.
The last part of the dream: knowing that his time was up, anyway. That John saved her.
Dana tells herself to remember, remember, remember. And then she wakes.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dana sat up in bed and stretched. Sometimes she could fool herself into feeling rested. But she always woke up with this dubious feeling, this feeling of unfinished business. A sort of guilty sense of not giving credit where credit is due.
But she was tired of trying to explain. She had a lot to get done at the bureau, she still had to pack Johnny's lunch. She hurriedly brushed her teeth and showered. She remembered that Mulder was coming over today to give her a child support check.
Dana handed her son his lunch and told him to get the door. Johnny peeked inside the brown paper bag, made a face, and pulled the door open. His father was standing there, grinning devilishly. Johnny bit his lip and pushed past him.
" See ya, Mom," he called, on his way to school. Dana turned and saw Fox, and frowned.
" Such a friendly lad," Mulder quipped sarcastically, plucking an apple from Scully's fruit bowl and taking a huge bite. " So how's it goin'?"
" Oh, alright, I guess," Scully said, accepting the check he handed her. " I'm a little worn out – so much work to do this time of year."
" What is it, Halloween?" Mulder joked, " Vampire season?" Scully gave him a look.
" You know what I mean," she said, " I don't do that kind of work anymore, Mulder."
" Uh-huh," he said, opening her fridge, " Well, sit down, if you're so worn out. I'll get you a drink." Scully rolled her eyes and had a seat on her couch. He was always getting her a damn drink when he was over here.
As she sat on the sofa, she picked up a picture of Johnny that rested on a little table beside her. Not a trace of Mulder's genes. Looking at his face, close like this, made her dizzy sometimes. Someone has looked at me like that before, she thought, in a rare moment of clarity.
She turned around and looked at Mulder. He was fussing over the drinks, stirring something. She turned back around. Wait – stirring? Stirring what? Water? She turned again, and he was carrying them toward her.
" Here ya go," he said, shoving the drink in her face. She opened her mouth, but couldn't quite decide what she wanted to say.
" Mulder –" she began, looking up at him. He was such an odd presence in her life – sometimes it seemed like he was waiting for something, a second chance, something he'd let slip through his fingers the first time.
I hope he's not looking for a second chance with me, Scully thought glumly, doubting that was the case, anyway. She accepted his glass of water and drank from it deeply.
Scully set the glass down on the coffee table, and shook her head.
What was I just thinking about? she wondered. She looked up at Mulder. He was grinning.